Political Notebook

“The party we claim to belong to’s the party we’re singing this song to.”— A member of the British Parliament, in Gilbert & Sullivan’s “Iolanthe” One of the most interesting and overlooked nuggets in the latest Goucher Poll, which was released earlier this week, was the approval/disapproval rating for state Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot (D). It was completely identical for Democrats and Republicans. Forty-two percent of Democrats approved of the job Franchot is doing. Forty-two percent of Republicans also approved. Fourteen percent of Democrats disapproved of Franchot’s job performance; ditto for Republicans. Perhaps that is fitting for Franchot, who has made his independence – particularly from the state Democratic establishment – his political calling card. As Franchot becomes more estranged from his party – some critics characterize him as a man without a country – he grows closer and closer to Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R). In fact, the two are doing one of their regular “Bromance” appearances before several Anne Arundel County groups Thursday at La Fontaine Bleue in Glen Burnie.  Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot  But for all his self-professed independence, Franchot’s favorability ratings with political independents is a tad lower than it is with D’s and R’s: 28 percent approved and 13 percent disapproved. Overall for Franchot it was 39 percent approve and 14 percent disapprove. By contrast, Attorney General Brian E. Frosh (D) racked up approval ratings of 31 percent compared to 17 percent who disapproved. The Goucher Poll surveyed 617 Maryland adults from April 14-19 and carried a 3.9-point margin of error. Baltimore-Washington Corridor Speaking of Franchot, he’ll be going door-to-door in Baltimore on Saturday with Del. Mary L. Washington, who is challenging Senate Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Chairwoman Joan Carter Conway in the District 43 Democratic primary. It’s all part of Franchot’s campaign to tweak Democratic leaders as the June 26 primary approaches – plus, Washington backed Franchot’s failed “Reform on Tap” initiative to boost craft breweries. In case you missed it, Conway and Washington went head-to-head on WYPR’s “Midday” program with Tom Hall earlier this week. It was a revealing program that said a lot about the race – and about the candidates’ intense dislike for each other. It’s worth checking out (and shameless self-promotion: Yours Truly came on and did some analysis following the Washington-Conway brawl). You can hear it here: http://wypr.org/post/sen-conway-del-washington-go-head-head-district-43 Foxwell in the Henhouse Speaking further of Franchot and his people, Len N. Foxwell, the comptroller’s chief of staff and political consigliere, is co-hosting a meet-and-greet on May 17 in Easton for Alec J. Ross, the tech entrepreneur who is seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. In a Facebook post, Foxwell described Ross and his running mate, brew pub co-owner Julie Verratti, as friends and “successful 21st century entrepreneurs who understand that social justice is unsustainable in the absence of a strong, diverse and forward-thinking economy. Both are unconventional candidates in an age when the traditional model of top-down, vertical politics has consistently let us down.” Sounds an awful lot like Franchot’s critique of the Democratic establishment. Franchot, it should be noted, is neutral in the seven-candidate gubernatorial primary and is likely to remain so. For Franchot and Foxwell, the latter’s support for Ross won’t interfere with their coziness with Hogan & Co. – so long as Ross remains in the lower tier of Democratic candidates for governor.  More Focus on Opioids While Hogan and Lt. Gov. Boyd K. Rutherford have made battling opioid addiction a major priority of their administration, House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) will lend his muscle to a new statewide effort to help address the state’s opioid crisis. Busch will be joining business leaders, health care stakeholders and civic activists at a news conference at an Annapolis pharmacy to launch the Rx Abuse Leadership Initiative (RALI). At the event, partners will announce RALI Maryland’s inaugural education program to educate patients on how to safely dispose of unwanted or unused medications.  Joining Busch at the morning event will be Arthur T. Dean, chairman and CEO, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America; Aliyah N. Horton, of the Maryland Pharmacists Association; and Gene Ransom of MedChi (the Maryland State Medical Society). Several other organizations are also participating. The Macker Crosses the Potomac Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will be road-testing his message for a possible 2020 White House bid in Annapolis on May 11, at the Anne Arundel County Democratic Central Committee annual dinner. McAuliffe is the featured speaker at the party confab, which is taking place at the Byzantium Events and Conference Center. Ticket prices start at $75. [email protected]  \

Josh Kurtz
Co-founder and Editor Josh Kurtz is the leading chronicler of Maryland politics and government. He began covering the State House in 1995 for The Gazette newspapers, and has been writing about state and local politics ever since. He later became an editor at Roll Call, the Capitol Hill newspaper, and spent eight years at E&E News, an online subscription-only publisher of news websites covering energy and environmental issues. For seven of those years, he led a staff of 20 reporters at E&E Daily, which covers energy and environmental policy on Capitol Hill and in national politics. For 6 1/2 years he wrote a weekly column on state politics for Center Maryland and has written for several other Maryland publications as well. Kurtz has given speeches and appeared on TV and radio shows about Maryland politics through the years.

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